House sends third grade reading retention repeal to Governor — more work to come

This week, the State House passed Senate Bill 12, which eliminates the retention requirement from Michigan’s third-grade reading law. Passed in 2016, thisAsian female teacher teaching mixed race kids reading book in classroom,Kindergarten pre school concept

law requires third-graders to be held back if they score below grade level on a high-stakes standardized reading test.

SB 12 has already passed the State Senate — it now heads to Gov. Whitmer for her signature, which is expected given her longstanding opposition to the retention portion of the reading law.

Repealing third grade reading retention has been a major legislative priority for MEA, since research has shown that holding students back does not generally improve their long-term reading proficiency and makes them less likely to graduate high school with a standard diploma. Moreover, holding students back based on the results of a single standardized test score can have a profound psychological impact on kids that can last a lifetime.

While SB 12 is a major step forward, there are further improvements to Michigan’s reading law that MEA will continue to advocate for, including:

  • Providing educators with greater professional latitude for assessments, especially when it comes to requirements about testing kindergarteners in the fall when they’re first adjusting to being in a classroom every day.
  • Increasing resources for schools to hire literacy coaches and reading specialists.
  • Reducing class sizes to increase individual student attention.
  • Delivering more resources and professional development to help educators meet student reading needs.
  • Facilitating additional individual support and reading plans – both at school and at home – for students who need extra help.
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